Celtic and Leipzig were evenly matched in the first half. Celtic had more good chances, Daizen Maeda and especially Kyogo Furuhashi should have done better with headers, while Matt O’Riley and Greg Taylor hit the woodwork. Leipzig issued a warning of what was to come by forcing Joe Hart into two excellent saves and having their own ‘should have done much better with a header’ moment.
After a blistering start by Celtic, Leipzig settled into a long period of sustained possession. This was broken when Kyogo brilliantly took a forward ball on his chest while being double marked, retained the ball and forced a Celtic throw-in. It took Celtic up field for the first time in 10 minutes and allowed them their best period in the game.
With Celtic in possession, Leipzig often offered a soft press, attempting to block progress near the centre circle. Celtic seemed to be deploying two pressing styles; Maeda, who pressed constantly, often chasing three opponents in a triangle, while his team-mates were less keen to plough forward. It looked untutored and was ineffective.
For the second successive home game in this competition we rued missed chances at halftime and some of us shared concerns about our remaining energy levels for the 45 minutes to come. Leipzig took control in the second period and could have scored three before Timo Werner eventually gave them the lead on 75 minutes.
The arrival of reinforcements in the form of Aaron Mooy, David Turnbull and Giorgos Giakoumakis 10 minutes earlier brought an energy that by then had left Reo Hatate, Sead Haksabanovic and Kyogo, but the new midfield offered no more effective cover to the defence.
Cameron Carter-Vickers was outstanding. Greg Taylor and Josip Juranovic were also excellent, the latter beat two men and carried the ball half the length of the field to setup an excellent chance that Kyogo was unable to convert. Moritz Jenz and Hart also did their part, but the oncoming tide was relentless.
A lot of football success is about confidence. Early in the first half, Hatate lost possession three times in succession. He is a player who is always looking for the ball while under pressure, holds it and tries to make an incisive pass. This run of misfires seemed to rob him of a forward gear, which those around him could not compensate for.
The overwhelming sensations are of disappointment and frustration. After many years of drawing incredibly difficult groups in European football, we are out of the Champions League and effectively out of Europe before Christmas, four games into a group that offered lots of promise. Glory, cash, coefficient points and no small amount of joy was left on the table.
You know the script, recover quickly and prepare for Saturday.
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